Cover Image: Spelunking Through Hell

Spelunking Through Hell

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Thank you to netgalley for providing an e-galley for review. Alice Healy has been searching for Thomas Price for 50 years now. She has been going to all different dimensions. Has she finally found him? Or has she caught herself in a dead world with no escaping. This was another great episode in the Incryptid series.
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A big thank you to NetGalley and DAW for the ARC.  I am voluntarily reviewing this book.  This is book 11 in as series, and let me say it does NOT read well as a stand alone.  I have not read the others and I find this confusing on so many levels.  Ok Thomas is the love of her life and she leaves her children with a babysitter and hunts for him for 50 years???  What the heck??  Sorry folks but I skimmed this book so I could finish.   Honestly, I will probably not try to read this series.  Apparently this wasn't for me.  This is not to say that others won't absolutely adore it.  I give it a 2.5.
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Alice Price-Healy once fell in love with a man named Thomas Price. Thomas was a member of the Covenant (and organization that wants to get rid of Cryptids). But love is strange and Thomas and Alice fell in love and Thomas made a bargain with this ... what...?  'being?' 'thing?' 'entity?' ... known as the Crossroads (oh ... those Crossroads books are good, too!). But part of that bargain was that Thomas couldn't ever leave his house and that they (the powers that be) could come and take him at any time.

Alice and Thomas have a child together and they are expecting their second child when Thomas is taken away without any warning.  Once she has the baby, Alice then goes looking for Thomas.

For fifty years.

This is the story of that search, through other worlds and other dimensions, Alice will stop at nothing and let nothing stand in her way so that she can be reunited with her only true love.

This is a wild adventure. This is sort of like going through all of McGuire's Crossroads series, InCryptid series, and October Daye series books in one sitting. We get so much here it's almost hard to digest. And on top of it all, there's a love story that works.

I also appreciate that underneath everything we read, there's some angst and some energy ready to burst. There could, and should, be another Alice story in the InCryptid series. 

In some ways, those who've been reading the series for awhile already know the basic Alice story, but being there to see her in action bring her story to another level. We also know the kind of trouble Alice is likely to get into, and we know the fierceness to which she'll fight anything that attempts to hold her back.

Like all the books in the series, this book contains a novella or novelette at the back of the book. It is very possible that I liked this story ("And Sweep Up the Wood...") even more than the novel.   This is a story of a very young Alice with her father and an InCryptid encounter that .... well, I don't want to give anything away.  This is a must read.

Looking for a good book? Spelunking Through Hell by Seanan McGuire is the book we've been waiting for (even if we didn't know it) in the InCryptid series. Read it; tell your friends about it; read it again.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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This is the story of,  Thomas Price, formerly of the Covenant of St. George in England, and Alice Healey, whose grandfather had left the Covenant, long ago and settled in the Buckley Township, Michigan.

Alice and Thomas married and lived their one child, with another on the way, along with the Aeslin mice. Thomas made a crossroads deal to save the love of his life. The day came to pay the Crossroads and he vanished. Once Alice gave birth to their second child, she took off across dimensions, searching for him for fifty years.

Once again, Ms, McGuire delves into the InCryptid series, this time with the beginning of the Price family and why Alice Healy-Price was never there and what happened to Thomas, all of this resolved. This series has never failed to keep me entertained. This story delivers all the excitement and also the promise of a happy ever after.

I gave the book 4 1/2 stars.
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I am always excited when a new InCryptid book drops and McGuire knocked it out of the park with this one. It seems like the whole series has been leading up to this, introducing a completely new realm for the characters to explore. I can't wait to see what comes next.
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This was a great installment in the Incryptid series, where we finally get Alice's story. We've heard over the series how she's been searching for her husband, one of the patriarchs of this whole clan. Alice has found a way to essentially keep her youth, and and Thomas is her sole focus at at this point. She loves her family, but she needs Thomas, she has decided that this is her last shot to get him back. She will stop at nothing to do so.
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Spelunking Through Hell: A Visitor's Guide to the Underworld (InCryptid) by Seanan McGuire
Cover Artist: Alastair Fell
Review by Sam Lubell
DAW Trade Paperback / eBook  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780756411831
Date: 01 March 2022

Spelunking through Hell: A Visitor's Guide to the Underworld is the 11th book in McGuire's InCryptid novels about a family of cryptozoologists who study, protect, and hunt (when necessary) supernatural creatures. While most of the novels (as opposed to the short stories and novellas) have focused on the current generation--Alex, Verity, and Antimony Price plus an adopted cousin Sarah Zellaby--Spelunking through Hell tells the story of their grandmother, Alice Enid Healy. But drop all assumptions of elderly grandmothers, Alice barely looks twenty, is armed and dangerous, and stubborn and obsessed beyond sanity.

Sixty-five years before the book's main plotline, Alice's future husband and then-current romantic interest, Thomas, sold his soul to the malign spirit of the crossroads in return for its help saving her life. The prologue shows how, after they had been married for just five years, the crossroads collected on the bargain, taking Thomas away shortly before Alice birthed their second child. Since then, Alice has traveled the dimensions, with the help of sorcerers, route witches, trainspotters, and others, trying to find Thomas even while everyone else in the family was convinced he was long since dead. This obsession has hurt her relationship with her children (and grandchildren) who think her fixation has made her dangerously crazy.

But the consequences of events in previous books in this series have given Alice new hope. One of her grandchildren has killed the crossroads spirit and told her that the crossroads do not kill those they take, but hide them far away. So she resolves to go back to dimensions she had previously rejected and use them to go further into other realities using magical tattoos she receives from a giant snake professor, who may be an ally helping her in return for her work as a pan-dimensional bounty hunter or who may have a more sinister agenda.

Although Alice lacks magic or preternatural powers, she does possess a high tolerance for pain and the Healy family's luck, "which is sometimes good and sometimes bad, but is never, ever boring". She's a little more selfish than the other members of her family, deserting her children to quest after her missing husband, but still basically good. One minor problem with her characterization is that, although she was born in 1938 and lived on Earth through 1965 before starting her dimension-hopping, McGuire writes her as if she were a contemporary of her grandchildren.

Even though this is the 11th book in the series, McGuire still takes care to provide enough information for new readers to follow the plot, even though they may not get all the nuances. Since most of the books in the series are episodic, there are only a few spoilers for the earlier books (mainly involving the crossroads). As with many of the other books in this series, DAW has added a bonus novella, in this case, the story of how Alice lost her father and what happened after that.

I had been a little disappointed with the previous two volumes in the series, which felt like one story puffed out to be two volumes. So, I am pleased to report this book has returned to the earlier volumes' high level of quality. There may be a bit less humor (the Aeslin mice make only brief appearances) but there is plenty of action and world-building.

Anyone who enjoys light fantasy adventure with interesting characters (most of them women) will enjoy Spelunking through Hell. There is a reason why McGuire almost always has one of her series up for best series Hugo.
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Content warning: parasites, gore, misplaced trust
Possible triggers for victims of gaslighting and/or psychological abuse

Seanan McGuire has done it again. Another fabulous book with well-rounded characters and an exceedingly well-planned universe. If you haven't already read the short stories set in this world that are available for free on her website (see link at end), I highly recommend doing so before picking this one up. While it might not be totally necessary, I think it gives important background on Alice, her family, and her relationship with Thomas. And if reading things in chronological order is important to you, the short story at the end of this book, Sweep Up the Wood, takes place after Target Practice, before Spelunking Through Hell.

In Spelunking Through Hell, we finally focus on Alice, the mysterious Price-Healy grandmother who has popped in and out of other books in the series. She's on a quest to find her long lost husband, and along the way, we finally get many of our questions answered, like, "why does Alice look younger than her grandchildren?" (Answer: not sure I was prepared for that). 

Spelunking Through Hell is currently out in trade paperback, rather than mass market like the previous books in the series. Coupled with paper shortages and other supply chain issues in the publishing world, that means the price is $17.99, a full $10 more than the previous book in the series. The ebook is $11.99, which is $4 more than the previous book. I'd be willing to say that the previous books may also have been underpriced for the quality of the writing, but that is a huge jump. I'm concerned that fans may be scared off by the increase, and sales may suffer as a result. That would be a huge shame, as I love this series, and want it to be economically viable for more of them to be written. If you are unable to purchase this book due to the cost, I highly recommend asking your local library to get a copy. 

seananmcguire.com/icshorts.php

Disclaimer: I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review
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I really enjoy Seanan McGuire's writing having read the whole Wayward Children series. This was my first foray into some of their other writing and it looks like I have some catching up to do as this book was amazing!
Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for providing me with an arc for an honest review.
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Remarkable Love Story

Love, noun:

An intense feeling of deep affection; may be romantic, filial, or platonic.

Passion, noun:

A strong or barely controllable emotion.
Enthusiasm, interest, desire.
See also “obsession.”

It’s been fifty years since the crossroads caused the disappearance of Thomas Price, and his wife, Alice, has been trying to find him and bring him home ever since, despite the increasing probability that he’s no longer alive for her to find.  Now that the crossroads have been destroyed, she’s redoubling her efforts.  It’s time to bring him home, dead or alive.

Preferably alive, of course, but she’s tired, and at this point, she’s not that picky.  It’s a pan-dimensional crash course in chaos, as Alice tries to find the rabbit hole she’s been missing for all these decades—the one that will take her to the man she loves.

Who are her allies?  Who are her enemies?  And if she manages to find him, will he even remember her at this point?

It’s a lot for one cryptozoologist to handle.

With book 11 of the Incryptid series, there are only so many ways to share how much I love Seanan McGuire and her work. Each series she writes has a unique tone and voice. Each series I love but one of the reasons I love this series is because it is fast paced, funny, and yet, has heart. I also appreciate the viewpoint that the monsters may not be the villain. These novels are truly a love story to the strange and the unusual and no one does that better than Seanan McGuire. 

For fans of the Incryptid series, including myself, we’ve been waiting for this story for a long time, the story of Alice and Thomas. What makes it truly remarkable and brilliant writing is that Seanan takes the plot that we’ve all been waiting for with baited breath and makes it accessible for those who might not have read all of the other Incryptid novels and short stories. I caught up with the short stories before I read this novel and it made it infinitely more pleasurable so I do recommend reading the other books first but if you haven’t, I can see where there is enough information and details so first time readers can have a solid understanding of the world and the relationship between Alice and Thomas. Will you enjoy it as much or fall in love with the characters as deeply? I don’t know but I like to believe my love of the other novels makes a difference. 

Regardless, the story is tightly woven, fast paced, and full of action, emotion, and great characters, both main and secondary. Seanan McGuire builds a relatable character in Alice, one in which others can sympathize, even while it appears Alice has gotten in deeper than she expects and is far more willing to risk life and limb more than anyone sane should. But her cause is believable and the emotional payout in the story is incredibly satisfying, even with twists and turns you won’t be able to anticipate. This novel is a love story at its core but I don’t want to tell you the end result. While Alice is unrelenting in her search, the truth is she might not be successful. And that concept, that writing of her story, is what makes Seanan so compelling and a joy to read. 

If you love the series, I highly recommend this book but if you haven’t, find time to find the others, read them and then immerse yourself in this incredible love story. 

Rating : 5 out of 5 skins
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Seanan McGuire  sends Thomas away from his wife to pay his debt to the crossroads.  Wife Alice takes care of the children then follows his path. Unfortunately she gets lost along the way.  As she gets back on track she realizes her allies have been using her.  Alice finds Thomas in a dead world.  How do they get out?  What happens to Alice's betrayers.?  Another In Cryptid novel of the strange and unexpected. Enjoy.
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Seanan McGuire never disappoints. Her inventive storytelling, interesting and unusual plots, and singular characters continue to attract my attention.  This particular plot centers on characters and storylines which have only have been peripheral to previous books in the Incryptid series.   Her main character is passionate, single minded, violent, and freely admits to it. She not only knows her mind, but is honest enough to cop to her faults. Yet has seemingly few regrets.

Yet, I have to admit that my liking for the series is stronger than this entry. The main character of Alice Price is a difficult one to like. But I will give her another visit if she appears in another story.
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An fun, if slightly flat, addition to the series, I liked Spelunking Through Hell, but still found myself wishing for something a little more. It was cool to finally get a novel from Alice's perspective, a character who has largely existed in the edges of the previous books. But I was a little disappointed that for all her tragic backstory, there didn't seem to be a lot of depth there.  Lots of quips as she punches bad guys, but not much else. There was one fascinating bit where she mentions that she didn't allow herself to fall in love with her daughter when Jane was born because then she wouldn't have been able to leave her, but it lacked the exploration and punch that such a revelation should have had. It was a nice change of pace to see a woman whose life doesn't completely revolve around her children not just be dismissed as some heartless monster, but at the same time, it brushed over a lot of things that should have been fleshed out more completely and let me connect with her as an actual person, not just a punch/quip machine.
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After 50 years of searching Alice Price-Healy
After 50 years of searching Alice Price-Healy finally has a solid lead on where her husband ended up after the Crossroads stole him away and she is not going to stop until she has him home.  I love that Alice gets to tell her story.  The Cryptid series never disappoints. Seanan Mcguire's storytelling and world building are creative and rich. I look forward to what is next for the Price family
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So as some of you might know, I'm a big fan of Seanan McGuire. I've made it one of my goals this year to reread all of the October Daye series (I'm at the start of book 6 now, thanks largely to audiobooks), but I also enjoyed what I've read of the InCryptid series quite a lot, so I jumped on the chance to grab this review copy from netgalley. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy in exchange for an honest review!

"Trauma changes who you are, and there's no way to say 'well, I'm finished with this, I'm going to move on now.' You have to figure out how to reconcile it with everything else you understand about yourself, and sometimes it really sucks." ~ Alice Price-Healy

First off, if you've not read an InCryptid book before, I definitely recommend the series as a whole. There are different places where you can start, like the first book, or arguably when the POV characters change. Probably not this book, though. I'd read up to book 5 at least, and then stopped due to unavailability at the local library/in local stores. I had no problem following the events here, but it'd be a lot harder with no context at all, and definitely having read the Antimony books would've helped me with some context. On the plus side, I now want to go and reread the whole series.

This series... It's a fun romp, there's loads of cryptids and monsters and funky weird creatures, and talking mice, and it's funny and light to read, until it's not. Alice is a tremendously fucked up character, with 50 years of trauma - some of which is self-inflicted - and this novel is about her reaching the end of her quest and dealing with what that means for her as a person. How do you move forward when your whole life was about finding that one person, and you now have to consider "what's next".  I don't normally do quotes but the one above just encapsulates the book so well - and also captures what resonated with me.

It was surprisingly fast-paced, although I should not be surprised because this whole series is fast paced short novels, but I didn't expect Alice to get to where she was going in less than 40% of the book. There were of course other challenges after that and I loved how the story unfolded. I'm also looking forward to seeing Alice and the others do a bit of healing. And hoping we'll see Sally again in the future, because she was a fun not-quite-antagonist-slash-adopted-kid to read about!
Overall an entertaining read that's made me want to dive back into the whole series!

trigger warnings for the book: parental abuse/neglect, panic attacks, wasps, graphic descriptions of physical injuries and flaying, mentions of cannibalism and rape.
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This feels like a culmination.

Spelunking Through Hell is book 11 of a series about a family of cryptozoologists - monster scientists and preservationists. It switches POV every few books and some are more interconnected than others. The events that led to this one really kicked off at the end of book 5, which started a domino chain through books 6, 7, and 8, with books 9 and 10 detouring slightly. In addition to the novels, there's a bunch of short stories and novellas - some released for free on the author's website, other in anthologies or on Patreon - detailing past generations. I can't tell you how well this one stands on its own because it stands SO WELL with its prequels, drawing two straight lines from the current continuity and the past that got us here to the culmination of what feels like a lot of things.

Thematically, it's a quest. Alice Healy has been hunting for her husband for fifty years, smashing through the walls between dimensions and giving people nightmares. She's abandoned her children, now grown, and somehow still looks about the age of their children, or even younger. The last time she saw her granddaughter Antimony, she learnt news that changed everything and gave her hope again. We meet her as she back onto Earth, right before her infamous Healy luck points her in a new direction. It might be a trap. It might be the answer to everything. It's definitely going to be a wild ride.

Alive has a very different perspective from her grandkids. She's older, far more cynical, and her focus is finding Thomas, with neither Covenant nor cryptozoology in sight. She's cheerful and damaged and tremendous fun to read even as you groan at some of her choices. She makes a lot more sense now I've read her backstory.

I'm trying not to gush but my flatmate caught me grinning at my phone during one particular fight scene and I found myself going back to reread choice bits (and then found myself rereading pretty much all of it). There's a bit of body horror and references to Alice's very poor parenting, but if you've read any of this series and enjoyed it, you will love this. I'd just recommend reading the Patreon stories for it to have maximum impact. It feels like a culmination, but it also feels like an inflection point, and I can't wait to see where the Price-Healy family do next.

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley; all opinions are my own
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Spelunking Through Hell is a wonderful addition to the In Cryptid series.  This book focuses on Alice Price-Healy and her search for her husband, Thomas through many dimensions and worlds.  It's fun, action-packed, and pulls a little bit at the heartstrings.   I'd recommend it to anyone who's interested in female focused storylines!
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This installment of the InCryptid series is from the point of view of Alice, the grandmother of Verity, Annie, and the other characters who have been our POV narrators up to this point. But in case you’re not familiar with the Price family, Grandma Alice isn’t the cookie-baking, sweater-knitting type of Grandma. She’s more the magically tattooed, pistol-packing, interdimensional-bounty-hunting kind of lady. Ever since her husband Thomas disappeared through a dimensional portal in 1965, leaving Alice and their two small children behind, Alice has been searching across realities for him. She hasn’t aged in that time, either, and won’t tell anyone how she managed that. And now that the Crossroads – the entity that took him from her in the first place – are no longer an issue, she’s more determined than ever to get him back. 

This is a story I’ve been waiting to read (and a POV character I’ve been wanting to see) for a long time, and it didn’t disappoint! This might be one of the best in the series so far.  Just as a warning, the truth about how Alice stays young is pretty horrifying, so if you’re squeamish, tread lightly – though if you’re already familiar with some of the gorier parts of Seanan McGuire’s work, you’ll probably be fine. 

The print and ebook versions (I don’t know about the audio) also contain a novella called “And Sweep Up The Wood...” about Alice’s youth, the woods she grew up in, and how she and Thomas got together. It was also really good, and added depth and context to their story. 

Representation: Lesbian characters 

CW: violence, torture, gore
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Series Info/Source:  This is the 11th book in the InCryptid series.  I got a copy of this to review as an eGalley from NetGalley.

Thoughts:  This was an amazing continuation of this series.  I loved finally getting Alice's story and background. This was really, really well done. 

This book actually takes place in current time but there is a novella that goes back into Alice's past included after the main book as well.  We get to join Alice on her journey through different dimensions as she gets closer and closer to finding her husband Thomas (after 50 years of searching).

I loved the different dimensions we journey through, they were very intriguing and creative.  I also loved the fast pace and all of the action here.  Alice is one tough cookie and watching the way she couples pure toughness, magic, and training was fun.  I also loved how this whole story ties in with the larger story that is woven throughout this series involving the crossroads….  Oh, and there are Aeslin mice aplenty, you have to love the mice!  

The novella included at the end was an excellent read as well.  We get a lot more background on Alice and Thomas’s past in that and it was a wonderful read.

My Summary (5/5):  Overall I think this was the best Incryptid book that I have read in quite some time.  I really, really loved the dimensional traveling and getting to spend time with the legendary, kick-butt Alice.  This was an incredibly fun read and tied many things from earlier books in the series together beautifully. I think you could read this as a stand alone and enjoy it, but you will enjoy it so much more if you have read the previous novels as well!  So much fun :-)
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Spelunking Through Hell, by author Seanan McGuire, is the Eleventh installment in the authors InCryptid series. Alice Price-Healy knows what pain feels like. She lost her mother at a young age and her father years later. She fell in love with a man named Thomas Price whose family was part of the dreaded Covenant which wants to rid the world of Cryptids. 65 years ago, in order to save Alice from dying painfully, Thomas made a bargain with the malevolent entity known as the crossroads. 56 years ago, Thomas was separated from his wife, their son, Kevin, and newborn baby daughter, Jane. 
 
After Jane was born, a heart broken, and shattered Alice left her kids with Laura Campbell to raise thus beginning her quest to find Thomas. For 50 years, Alice has all but abandoned her children, as well as her Aeslin mice, for a never ending search for Thomas, and to finally bring him home. Alice nearly made her own bad bargain with the Crossroads, only to be stopped by Mary Dunlavy, the family babysitter who also helped Antimony on her quest. Her search has led her across a variety of dimensions. Nobody seems to know what happened to Thomas. 
 
Alice's one break was a hint from Antimony a few books ago when she faced off against the Crossroads. She now has confirmation that Thomas is still alive and out there somewhere. Since she was a kid, Alice has been helped by a Naga. She works for him tracking down bounties while she searches for any trace of where the Crossroads might have sent her husband. When she finds a book in a cave while she is retrieving her backpack, the discovery of journals and a dimensional map by a famous explorer sets her on a new path. Thanks to her friends in Ithaca, Alice might be getting closer.
 
As we've seen from other books, Alice appears to be in her early twenties and is covered in magical tattoos that help her heal and use magic on her search for Thomas. But the dimensions are not kind, and neither is her most reliable helper. The addition of new worlds, including Ithaca, also introduces readers to characters who have been helpful to Alice on her never ending search for Thomas. Without spoiling anything, Alice is not a pushover and has a bit of power. She has a forest back in Michigan that loves her, and an Aeslin mouse congregation complete with Priest that keep records and prays for her, but they were left with Antimony some time ago. 
 
There are things that I can say without spoiling what happens. The reunion, yes. It goes about as you expect it to go. A new character named Sally who was taken by the Crossroads is pretty cool. She's very protective of Thomas and it takes a whole lot for her to believe Alice isn't an assassin. The world that Alice ends up in is a nightmare that forces the parties to use curious ways to escape. The bitterness between Jane and Alice will one day need to be fixed. Alice has a whole lot to make up for. I can also say that the Aeslin mice to make an appearance, but Alice, Thomas, and Sally have one more adventure to finish before retiring.
 
The novella at the end of the book, And Sweep Up the Wood, features a young Alice and Thomas which is something readers of the series should definitely read until the end. In typical McGuire fashion, she has allowed characters several books like Sarah. I am curious if another Alice book is in the works now that Thomas, and Alice, and Sally seem to be a team.
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